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How To Organize Your Kitchen

Practical tips and advice from local experts.

If you’ve struggled to keep your kitchen organized, join the club. For many of us, the struggle is all too real. The good news is, there is hope. The team of designers at Arlene Williams Kitchen Design offer these practical ideas to help with your biggest and smallest problem areas.

Clear out the Clutter

Eliminate items that you never use or have duplicates of to help declutter and make room for the things you need.

Store According to Frequency of Use

Arrange your kitchenware by frequency of use, with everyday dishes on an easy-to-reach lower shelf and special-occasion pieces up above. If you use it often, it should be readily accessible.

Use Double-duty Containers

Glass casserole pans and even jars make great serving pieces. The casual presentation helps a party feel friendly and laid-back, and any leftovers can be stored right in the serving container.

Consider All-White Dishes

Instead of bowls and platters in lots of different patterns, buy everything in white. If you are having a casual get together, compliment the white china with rustic baskets or to dress things up, add candlelight.

Group Similar Items

Group objects by purpose and assign them to specific cabinets..

Keep Like Items Together

Keep plastic bags, plastic wrap, and storage containers in a drawer near the refrigerator to make quick work of storing away leftovers.

Store Tools Efficiently

Store essential tools together within easy reach of your cooking area for efficient food prep. And take advantage of drawer dividers that keep each tool in its own space and will keep you from having to rummage around to find what you need.

Organize Your Food

Organize your pantry shelves as you would a library, with food items grouped by category. If you buy ingredients in bulk, transfer things from floppy bags and large boxes to more manageable, smaller containers. It’s easier to keep the containers right at hand, and they are less likely to spill. Label them with the date of purchase and put taller containers in the back with shorter ones in the front. That way you’ll be able to see everything at once without having to move things around.

Organize Your Kitchen into Work Zones

Consider the types of tasks performed in your kitchen such as prepping, cooking, dishware storage and food storage and store items according to their related zone. For example, create a cooking zone around the stove, storing pots and pans as close to the range as possible. And if you have someone who helps you prep, consider creating a second prep zone so you each have your own space in which to work. Equip that zone with whichever tools are most useful such as cutting boards and knives. This makes the prep efficient and keeps your prep help out of your main cooking area.

Customize Your Cabinet Storage Options

Incorporate innovative storage products to optimize space and provide increased visibility of your kitchen items. It can be as simple as storing your spices on a lazy Susan which not only maximizes space but also keeps everything visible with just a quick spin, or adding roll outs to your base cabinets so the things you use every day are readily accessible.

Pro Tip: Alphabetize your spices

I am one of those who put their spices in the cabinet in alphabetical order. It makes finding the right spice quick and easy. In the refrigerator, drinks go on one shelf, dairy on another and condiments on the door.

— Barbara K. Clark, Ad-Vise Inc.

Pro Tip: Make it organ-easy

I love a well-organized kitchen so much that I developed a word … organ-easy. When it is organized, it is easy! Here are some simple tips for the home cook to make their kitchen a little more organ-easy:

[1] Use a flatware organizer to store the long skinny kitchen tools in a drawer; spatulas, whisks, micro planes, etc. This is the drawer that always gets out of control and those favorite tools become “eaten” by the drawer.

[2] To save on space; store dry products such as flour, sugar, cocoa powder, panko bread crumbs, etc. in storage containers, preferably stackable containers. Doing so will avoid the flour from seeping out of that paper bag and the containers will stack nicely, making every item easy to find and accessible.

[3] Store your salt and pepper grinder in cupcake wrappers, unused, of course. The cupcake wrapper will catch the unclaimed ground pepper stuck at the bottom of the grinder rather than wreaking havoc on your spice cabinet.

— Chef Karla Williams, Hilton Head Health

Pro Tip: Don’t drop your drawers

Recently I did a little kitchen re-organization. My kitchen was in pretty good shape, but there’s always room for improvement. A few little changes can save a ton of time. One thing in particular was adding drawers to the inside of my base cabinets. Now rather than sitting on the floor to try to dig in the back of a cabinet to find something, I simply pull out the drawer and I can see everything that’s there and easily retrieve what I am looking for. This is especially helpful with heavy items, like my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I also added drawers to my pantry shelves, making it super easy to find things, especially on the lower shelves.

— GiGi Wilson, chef and author

The culinary team at Hilton Head Hospitality (Holy Tequila’s Jorge Covarrubias, Healthy Habit’s Kevin Yeung and Charbar’s Brandon Burke).
The culinary team at Hilton Head Hospitality (Holy Tequila’s Jorge Covarrubias, Healthy Habit’s Kevin Yeung and Charbar’s Brandon Burke).

Kitchen Tips from 3 Wise Men

Advice from the culinary team at Hilton Head Hospitality (Holy Tequila’s Jorge Covarrubias, Healthy Habit’s Kevin Yeung and Charbar’s Brandon Burke).

  • Consider using zip top freezer bags to portion out sauces and stocks. Store straight up like file folders. That maximizes space and allows for easy identification and access.
  • Always store short items in the front and taller to the rear so you always have an eye on your product and makes sure you are rotating.
  • Consider buying dry goods in bulk and divide in plastic bins and jars to make use of space as well as a money-saving effort and portion control.
  • Keep your pots and pans stored and stacked neatly in a space close to your stove for easy access.
  • Avoid overcrowding frequently used areas such as produce bins, meat and cheese bins. Your products will hold better and rotate more easily.
  • Leave items such as garlic bulbs, potatoes, onions and non-delicate fruits in decorative bowls on counter tops to utilize your refrigeration more effectively.
  • Keep sauce in squeeze bottles.
  • Turn old towels into reusable rags.
  • Create a safe space to store your knives to prevent damage.
  • Trade soggy sponges for durable green scrubbies used in restaurants.
  • Have at least two cutting boards and reserve one for sweet recipes.
  • Avoid storing food in places that get hot (like above the stove).
  • The space next to your stove is for wooden spoons, spatulas, and anything else you need for actual cooking.